NEWS

June 2013

 

Well folks this will have to be short and sweet as I am writing this in-between cruises. As you know I did 12 days on Marco Polo and has an amazing time. The ports were to the Baltic and to say it was cold would be an understatement and I didn’t pack enough thermals but the passengers were delightful and the crew fabulous. I was made to feel very welcome.

For this contract I did something slightly different, ‘An Audience With’ which took place in a cabaret slot in the evening. I did two shows at 8.00pm and 10.00pm and I sat on the stage in an armchair opposite the cruise director who proceeded to interview me Parkinson style and in-between I showed rare clips. The format worked really well and as far as my contract was concerned that was me finished. I felt a bit of a fraud having 11 days holiday so I offered to do 4 talks and they also went down well and showed off my versatility. I am hoping to get the Amazon on Marco Polo in January which is a 42 night cruise, so my thought was to show that I was more than a one trick pony. Fingers crossed.

I was on with comic Andy Ford who was a delight. He said we’d met before when I was travelling with mum and Max but to be honest I didn’t remember. The other artists were a double act called Sister Sister, two Irish folk singers. They were superb but more than that they are so funny. They’d been working for Cruise and Maritime for 14 years as had the Craft Lady Mary. It’s almost like working with family. This was my debut for the company although I have another contract with them in October. I was initially worried about working the ship as it is very small but I also found out she used to be an ice breaker so is made for difficult weather. As it happened we had the most amazing flat glass sea for the entire trip but suffice to say that I will be working on her much more next year if the offer is still there.

Tivoli

I’d never been to the Baltic before but I have to say I enjoyed all the ports especially our first Copenhagen. I’d always wanted to visit the Tivoli as it was where dad performed at the 1964 Eurovision Song Contest. We were only docked a few hours but I walked all the way to the other end just to see the outside. The books say that no visit is complete without visiting this famous landmark, founded in 1843 by Georg Carstensen. The gardens are filled with rides, concerts, fairly lights and beautiful lawns and flower beds. At night they apparently have the most wonderful fireworks and illuminations. Next time I come I will hopefully get a chance to see inside the building. It is amazing to think that this is where dad met Udo Jürgens and first heard him sing Warum Nur Warum

This time I caught a taxi back to the quayside but not before topping at the other famous landmark, The Little Mermaid. Hans Christian Anderson was a Danish author and poet best remembered for his fairy tales, a literary genre that he mastered and became known for worldwide. Born in the town of Odense, Anderson was an only child and only received a basic education. He supported himself from a young age and initially sought employment as an actor. His excellent soprano voice led to him being accepted into the Royal Danish Theatre but the inevitable effects of puberty on his vocal chords meant that this was a short-lived dream. It was then suggested by a colleague that he consider poetry as a profession instead.

Little Mermaid

It was during 1835 that Anderson published the first installment of his immortal Fairy Tales. The collection, which was published in 1836 and 1837, consists of nine tales that include The Tinderbox, The Princess and the Pea, Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid and the Emperor’s New Clothes. Initially the quality of these stories was not immediately recognized and he spent the next few years with little success. Finally in 1845 Anderson heralded a breakthrough with the publication of four different translations of his fairy tales and features in popular volumes such as Bentley’s Miscellany. His tales have now been translated into 125 languages and have been culturally embedded in the West’s collective consciousness.

Armed with a map I emerged at the waterside to lay my eyes on this notable statue and was slightly taken aback by how small she is. I expected a very imposing monument and although stunning you could easily miss the evnt if you were not looking properly.

Our next port was Warnemunde in Germany. The ship were offering a trip to  Berlin but it was a twelve hour trip and I had to be on stage before the trip was due back. Some of you might know that my mum was born in Berlin and I would have liked to see where the wall once stood but alas time was against me.

Next was Tallin, the capital of Estonia and it is a beautifully preserved medieval city of castles, moats, red-capped towers, bastions and gable tile-roofed houses. The heavily fortified city has a thick outer wall and a moat, behind which stood the city walls, broken only by huge bastion forts with drawbridges. About two thirds of the length of the old town walls remain as do 18 of the original 25 towers.  Old Tallin is divided into two areas, the Lower Town and the Upper Town. To this day the city has retained a historical atmosphere.

We docked at St Petersburg for two days and I didn’t get off as I didn’t have the right visa. I could have joined a tour but I’d heard nightmare stories from the cruise director about the officiousness of immigration and the guards and it put me off. You actually had to allow an extra hour each end of the tour just to get in and out of the country, as they were manned by armed guards and immigration.

SALTY DOG TALK – Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
In wooden ships, the ‘devil’ was the longest seam of the ship. It ran from the bow to the stern. When at sea, and the ‘devil’ had to be caulked, the sailor sat in a bosum’s chair to do so. He was suspended between the ‘devil’ and the sea ‘the deep’, a very precarious position, especially when the ship was underway.

Helsinki was our next port of call, a country of about 5.4 million people. It is the easternmost Scandinavian land mass with more than 60,000 lakes (not a typo) and a large part of the country is within the Arctic Circle, reaching up to Lapland, The Land of the Midnight Sun. I went on a non-guided tour to view the Sibelius Monument. It is located in a park of the same name and is a magnificent piece of contemporary art made of stainless steel pipes. Amazingly it took six years to make and you can see it from miles away. Next I went to Market Square, which was situated on the waterfront. I had an hour here to explore the colourful stalls selling fish, oriental food, flowers and handicrafts. It was a very cute area which stood opposite a fountain topped by a bronze statue of the sea nymph ‘Havis Amande’, the symbol of the city. The most noticeable thing were the prices, everything was extremely expensive even in the market and I didn’t stop to eat there either as the native food is crayfish and reindeer. Talking of reindeer, there are 186,000 in Finland and I didn’t see one… it seems they live mainly in Lapland.

Our last stop was Stockholm in Sweden but we were only there 4 hours and we had to tender. I have to let the passengers off first and the tenders were frought with mishaps. The pilot had sent them over to an area where the step off the boat was more than 15 feet up!!!! Slight miscalculation. Next one of the tender operators fell into the drink. I cannot even imagine how cold it must have been and to top it off it was raining and felt even colder. As I am coming back to Sweden in a few weeks time with no tender I decided to make use of the time to work, yes I do occasionally.

The cruise director had offered the entertainment team a dinner on our last night on the Captain’s Table. It was a lovely gesture and gave all the artists some genuine down time and a chance to swap emails with promises to stay in touch. I have to say I will be staying in touch with everyone, they were all super and I will look forward to working with any of them again very soon.

Tilbury was our home port. I never knew cruise ships went out of there but for me it was really convenient as I was home in just over an hour. Although I did get a chance to go home it was only for a few hours as the next morning I was boarding P&O’s Ventura. I hadn’t been on her before and boy was she big but what a superb technical marvel. I’ve done Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Sea before but this felt bigger unless it is the layout. I was in the crew quarters and the only way to get there easily was to walk the open deck. I tested the route 4 times before my show so I knew the way there but I still had to give myself half an hour.

The trip to Norway was only seven days and it only took a blink and it was over. I’d been lucky enough to go there last year so I was looking forward to viewing areas I hadn’t seen before. My first disappointment was that Bergen, my favourite stop, was closed. There was some sort of public holiday and every shop was closed. I’d found the most wonderful boutique last time that I was dying to go back to but the closed sign hung from the door. Gutted. Only the market was open, which sold mainly fish. After the Baltic I expected the weather to be just as cold so imagine my surprise to find it was 72 degrees there. Awesome. Mind you it didn’t stay with us long as we were headed north and some of the temperatures at the tip was 40 below. Thankfully we didn’t go that far but the thermals had to come out again.

My stop in Olden was fantastic. Actually there is nothing at the quayside save a couple of tourist shops but there was independent tour operators touting their wares. On impulse I booked a 15 minute helicopter trip to the Glacier. I don’t know what possessed me as I hate flying. I hadn’t been up in a helicopter before although I had booked a flight in Vegas but it was cancelled because of high winds. I am glad I took the bull by the horns as the sights were truly breathtaking. I would have loved a front seat as the whole section was glass but because of a distribution of weight they made me sit in the back (bloody cheek). If any of you ever get a chance to do the trip you must. It is a memory to be treasured.

Molde was very uninteresting by contrast although interestingly two of the roads that I speak about in my travel talk The Great Escape’ are located here: one is the Atlantic Road and the other is the Trolls Road. These are two to avoid if you travel by car. Look the pictures up on Google and you will see what I mean.

The gateway to Norway’s spectacular scenic fjordland, Stavanger is also a town with its own rich heritage as it is regarded as The Cradle of the Vikings. Ventura docked right next to the old quarter with its collection of 200-year-old white wooden houses and a 12th century cathedral modeled on Winchester Cathedral as well as markets, craft stalls and art galleries. The town is built on hills and it took all my puff to reach the shopping area but it was worth the effort just to visit the chocolate café, need I say more. We were docked right next to ‘The World’ and although Ventura is massive it always strikes me just how small the other ship is. I’ve seen it four times now in all different ports of the world on different ships and I always expect to see this huge impressive ship, although I am sure the interiors are spectacular. I think the cheapest unit was two million but if you have the money it is certainly a different way to live.

I had two talks to give in The Tamarind Room, which seats about 300 and thankfully it was brimming on both occasions. I had the perfect audience and sold out of all my books and Cds. I was told the feedback was good so I hope P&O take note and offer me a few more cruises next year. I only have one more this time round and that is in November. Having waited so long for the bookings to come through it was disappointing just to get the two but of course I might pick up an odd one towards the end of the year. I love working on their ships, they are quintessentially British and have the right caliber of guests that adore dad’s music. I always have full houses on their ships and I feel comfortable. I only met the cruise director twice, one at the life boat drill and the night before I got off but he was pleased with the feedback and said I was welcome back whenever I wanted. Nice to know.

Steve Tandy was on board with his wife Jill. Steve is a great comic who was on Oceana with me in January of this year Another act who was also on Oceana was The Johnson Brothers, Adam and Richard. They told me that they had got through to the live finals of Britain’s Got Talent so they were going straight to the studios when they got off the ship. They are hermits and only surface from their cabins when they eat, the rest of the time they play games. I did suggest they take some fresh air and at least get off at some of the ports but maybe they are shy. They were exactly the same earlier in the year. Josh Daniels was the other comic on board and Steve introduced me to him. Laurie Briggs does a fabulous tribute to Karen Carpenter and rang me to meet up with her as she is a huge fan. She’s met Matt once before and she was dying to meet me as well. She was very sweet as was Jimmy Love who does an Elton John Tribute. I didn’t get a chance to see his show but heard he is excellent. P&O do go full out on putting on great entertainment. There was another vocalist on board called Jessica Lloyd but I didn’t meet her until the last day and then only fleetingly.

Anyways as I’ve said before I’m always a little sad at the end of each cruise, it’s another chapter of my life at an end and although I’m always ready for anew adventure it is sometimes hard to say goodbye. While on board I picked up another cruise with Princess 1st-15th July to Iceland. That will be very interesting as I haven’t been there before but after that I need somewhere warm.

Anyways I’m off now on Balmoral back to the Baltic and I’m home on the 11th June for a few weeks. It will be nice to sleep in my own bed. I’ve also been out of the loop in terms of any updates from EMI but a word of warning. If you haven’t bought your copies of The Rare Monro or the follow up, The Singles Collection or The Greatest, you need to head to the Internet now as they have all been deleted thanks to Universal. We are fighting them to get the rights back but as always nothing moves quickly. Nearly everything left in the catalogue has been taken by Universal leaving us depleted. I am really angry as Richard and I worked so hard at Matt Uncovered: The Rarer Monro’ and it had only been out a few months. I don’t even have stock as I had no idea this could happen. Suffice to say I will be on the case when I get back.

I am still holding out hope that someone somewhere has a taped show of dad on video. I say it every month but don’t forget that if any of you have an attic full of old tapes that you want rescued or reel-to-reels that you want transferred then Richard would be happy to oblige. It’s amazing what we stuff into our attics and I am still hoping that some of you have a Matt Monro television show or radio that you taped years ago that you have forgotten about. You never know you might just be harboring one of dad’s jingles without knowing it.

There are a few new additions to my cruise calendar for this year but a couple are still a pencil. Whatever the coming year holds, suffice to say that I shall be plugging Matt Monro’s music at every opportunity.  That is the wonderful thing about working the ships, it gives me a brand new audience each time and if then, a small percentage go home a fan, then it is worth all the blood, sweat and tears, not to mention the Bay of Biscay!!!! As of today, the dates that are in are:

27 May – 10 June – Fred Olsen Balmoral
22 June – 12 July – Sea Princess CANCELLED
27 July – 10 August – Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas

6 October – 20 October – Cruise & Maritime Marco Polo15 November – 25 15 – 25 November – P&O Arcadia
I am still making an appearance every Wednesday on Siren 107.8FM’s ‘Midweek Drive’. The weekly slot allows me to select some of the lesser-known tracks of dad and that is wonderful as it gives me a chance to play a broader range. Siren have actually asked me to pre-record shows for the dates I am not here this year although I shall be around to do plenty of live shows so that should be fun.

Don’t forget to check out our Spotlight feature this month, I know so many of you enjoy them. This time round we look in at Herman’s Hermits.

Check out the ‘Rough Guide to mattmonro.com’, which is available towards the bottom of the Homepage. A few of you have mentioned that you don’t know how to access certain areas of the site or in fact are unaware of new areas, this guide will explain how easy this website is to get around, once you know how.

There is also another information box “How to Use the Forum’. I know a lot of people have been tempted to join in on some of our conversations but are slightly nervous of doing so. For that reason I have printed step-by-step instructions of how to access it. It really does only take a few minutes.

Don’t forget to recommend the website to all your friends. If any of you have Facebook pages it would be great if you could put the website link on there. If you’d like to do me a tremendous favour then a review of either my book or dad’s new album on www.amazon.co.uk or www.amazon.com would be fabulous. You don’t even have to have bought the item there and your words could very well influence someone else investing their hard-earned money so it really could make a big difference.

I’ll see you next month and in the meantime here’s hoping that your lives are always filled with music.

Warmest to you and yours
Michele

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